By: Antwan Crump
< I >
I was just a boy when she thrust me into manhood. I had no business traversing her sumptuous curves -yet -somehow I was chosen. I’d seen men fall to their knees – weakened at the thought of her disrobed silhouette. Her dresses never left much to the imagination. Even at sixteen, barely accustomed to my own erection, I knew she was more than just another piece of trouser candy. I had to have her.
I wasn’t allowed in the jazz clubs. “Stay away young man, go home and study”. Oh, I studied. All it would take is some facial hair and swagger. Luckily, my brother knew how to stencil in a phony beard. Looking back, it was pitiful – a testament to my young desire. The bouncer knew, but I think even he could appreciate my determination. We were still friends until his death – mostly, because I think he enjoyed hearing the stories.
Follow the music, I thought to myself, as I checked my tweed coat. Okay, okay, it was my father’s. Don’t judge, my ambition knew no bounds. Smoke filled the room – a combination of tobacco and it’s pine-cone smelling counterpart. I miss it. The band played the smoothest melody-one that could even crack a Nazi’s demeanor. How could you not sway as they play the gay of humanity? The old meaning of gay, not the slur. Foolish children.
I sat alone in a booth in the back of the night-club. My face itched from my stenciled in “beard”. The piano helped distract me from scratching. The keys man , the keys. And the chords man, the chords. Strung together like a blanket of dove feathers. It enveloped me. Encapsulated me. It, screw it man – just play.
I ordered a glass of champagne to keep up the illusion. Of course I got some stares, but I was well-behaved -so they let me be. I just sat in my booth and listen to the masters play. Damn, how they played. I had almost forgotten my mission. The muses, they would call it. A dimly lit stage filled with hope and pain, manifested in a swirl of smoke that danced along with the pull of the bass strings – the soundtrack to my wanting, my waiting, the inevitable.
Two glasses of champagne later, I became flustered and impatient. As I pondered leaving, absent of achieving my goal –it happened- she approached like a seductress, her hips swaying with the sensuality of a serpent stalking prey.
“You new around here?” she asked.
I shuttered at the thought of responding. I believe I said “I am.” She smiled and sat beside me. I nearly released at the smell of her perfume, the warmth of her body so close to mine. It still makes me quiver. She continued her attempt to speak to me -in a tone even angels would envy-, I listened – trying my best not to get too lost in the fullness of her lips.
“Got a light?”, she asked, attempting to break me out of my racing imagination.
“Got a light?”, I was still gone.
The band had distracted me. It was like a dream. The woman of my heart, the music of my soul – playing in tandem. I was just a boy. How would you have handled it?
“I guess a girl’s gotta’ fend for herself?” she joked.
I forced myself to re-enter the moment. In the smoothest transition from my fantasy, I answered “Yes.” – reaching into my pocket I felt around for the matches I had stolen from my brother. Hey, he wasn’t using them.
“Tisk, tisk honey.”
They had been hanging out of my shirt pocket. She had no issue pointing this out. A class act, she giggled and tipped her flapper toward them. I giggled back and retrieved them. Lucky for me, I had a fascination with fire. I guess that’s why she attracted me as well. I had no problem lighting her up. Jesus! Even the way she puffed from that thin tube – further proved her yearning…. her insatiability.
“Thank you darling”
We sat for a time and enjoyed some wine, I shouldn’t be mixing drinks – but I had to impress her. She swayed with such sexual fluidity – as the band played the theme of our union. I stole every glance I could, until she noticed.
“Can I help you with something dear?”
She had no idea how much she could. I had to play it cool. “No, no sweety. You’ve done enough.” I’ve heard too many of these machismo stories. Each line I said, more plagiarized than the last – but it seemed to keep her attention.
“You some kind of hustler or something?”
I should’ve said no. In my only original response of the night, I said “If it’s working”. I’m pretty sure she was charmed by the sheer naivety of my answer. We laughed. She placed her hand on my leg, ever so gently. Thank god I was wearing dark pants.
“You’re sweet.” she said.
As I smiled, she licked the thumb of her glove, and wiped some of the stencil off of my cheek. I was caught in my childish attempt at deception. The color flushed out of my face. My erection ran into hiding. Before I could come up with an excuse she laughed, and told me to – “Get that mess off of your face.”
Embarrassed, I panicked and thought of running. She grabbed my belt and pulled me back into my seat.
“Stay and enjoy the show honey.” she said -staring directly into my eyes. She would later tell me she saw past the boy – she saw the man I would become. She was full of it, but papa always said “Never fold when the cards are in your favor.” He probably meant something else. The lesson applied either way. She tamped out her cigarette and approached the stage.
“Ladies and gentlemen please put your hands together, and give a warm welcome to the lovely, the beautiful, the talented, Miss Esperanza.”
The crowd gave a subtle applause. I joined, (along with some obnoxious hooting), then to returned to clearing my face of the stencil. She sang – as beautifully as one could imagine.
It took me.
It took all of us.
Had I been more experienced, I’d have been ashamed. She knew what she doing. To her I was a trophy. The actualization of an innocence she’d sought in the world. An innocence that she now owned – for eternity. I’m glad she has that. I’m glad I gave her something -especially since satisfaction was not yet my specialty. Needless to say, the door was now open and I’d never be the same.
< II >
For the rest of this story, Please Purchase-
Tourmaline: (A Collection of Things) -> Here.